04/10/2014 10:56 am ET Updated Jun 10, 2014

When Life Hands You a Drug Den, Create a Coaching Opportunity

What I do as a coach is not particularly difficult. I listen, and I reflect what I hear/see. The basics are pretty simple, but the real work occurs when people think what I do is more than listening and reflecting. They seem to think I'm using some weird voodoo, or Superman-type X-ray vision. Usually, it's not with malicious intent. My clients just have some "stuff" -- or what I commonly refer to as "the story" -- in the way.

What do I mean by story? Allow me to illustrate:

My husband and I are older parents, so we eschewed the idea of making friends with people just because they happen to have kids. But lo and behold, it happened anyway. We love them. They're a hoot. Anyway, a couple of days ago, we were walking our daughters to school, and my husband and the other father started talking about the sketchy "shoe repair shop" on the way to school.

Me: What?

Husband: You never noticed the "shoe" store?

Friend's Husband: The one with all the kids streaming in and out all day??

Me: Uh... no?

Them: OMG! [Imagine two 44-year-old men actually saying "OMG" for a moment]

Husband: There is always a line out the door.

Friend's Husband: There are always kids going in and out of that place.

Husband: Teenagers don't go to shoe repair shops. It must be a front!

Friend's Husband: But there are cops all over the place.

Husband: It must just be weed.

Friend's Husband: I can't believe they're so brazen about it.

And on and on and on and on. The "story" kept getting bigger and more juicy and exciting for them. Silly me asked:

Me: Why don't you go in and find out?

I was met with blank stares, the likes of which you'd never seen. It was as if I'd suggested pulling out their chest hairs one by one.

So, I went in. Guess what I found?

The shoe store holds the kids' mobile phones. I guess it's a new rule in high school: You're not allowed to bring them in. Kids check their phones while at school and retrieve them at the end of the day.

When I told the "boys," their disappointment was so apparent.

Husband: Well...

Friend's Husband: That's not fun.

Husband: I actually thought the Upper West Side was cool for about 10 minutes.

Friend's Husband: I'm going to pretend it's still a drug den.

Funny, yes? Well, this example sure is. But consider all the stories that you are holding on to as true and are unwilling to give up. Maybe the one about time? Money? Family? Ex-spouses? Mean boss? Bad economy? Gender politics? Race?

Suddenly not so funny, huh?

Our "stories" play a particular role in our lives. Most people like to avoid "normal" -- for many reasons. I invite you to consider that it's less about whether or not the story is "true" but about how you're being with your story.

What if the story were simply that? Just a story, with an opportunity to change the plot... if you choose to take it.

I invite you to consider the possibilities.